October 13, 2017

"[T]his is a real horse and it has been bred to meet the demands of a particular market that likes a particular appearance."

“Where will it end? Is it really so bad for a horse to look like a horse and not a cartoon character?" (UK Telegraph).
The farm described the horse as a step towards ‘perfection’, but equine experts warned the animal may find it difficult to breathe and exercise with such a flattened nose.

UK equine expert Tim Greet of Rossdales Veterinary Service, in Newmarket, said although Arabians were known for their ‘dished’ features, the new colt ‘takes things to a ridiculous level,’ and said the deformity could be even worse for a horse than for a dog.
Notice the effort to distinguish horses and dogs. Clearly, many of us accept the extremes of dog breeding.

Extreme breeding of horses and dogs is...
 
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43 comments:

Richard said...

Unless it is Mr. Ed.

Curious George said...

I thought it was going to look like John Kerry, but no.

Nonapod said...

As cute as they are, I feel the way we've deformed pugs is a bit cruel.

tcrosse said...

In some times and places horses were bred for the table. Dogs, too.

Annie C said...

The one that always seems so awful to me is how the breeders have dropped the backside of German Shepherds so low. And that's the style that wins at Westminster, so that's where they go.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I can't say whether this type of breeding is right or wrong until I know how it effects the flavor.

tcrosse said...

Are these the same guys who bred the Moral High Horse that Streep rides ?

Gabriel said...

I don't think Chihuahuas will ever forgive us for what we've done to them.

Roy Jacobsen said...

Define "extreme breeding."

mockturtle said...

My husband and I had a delightful purebred pug for almost 14 years but she had several congenital health issues: Hip dysplasia, respiratory problems and hypothyroidism. My current 'mutt' is 15 1/2 and enjoys excellent health. I would never encourage cruel breeding practices again by buying a purebred dog.

Ann Althouse said...

"I don't think Chihuahuas will ever forgive us for what we've done to them."

They would have to believe that they should never have existed.

The entities that have a complaint are a zillion boringly mutty-looking dogs that were never born.

Michael K said...

I could find no answer that was appropriate.

I have had basset hounds for years which are a dog with a mutation that causes achondroplasic dwarfism. I don't think breeders created this. It is hundreds of years old. It did create a dog with a wonderful disposition but the inbreeding shortens their lives.

All purebred dogs live fewer years than mongrels.

Gabriel said...

They would have to believe that they should never have existed.

If a person is born with Downs syndrome, or achondroplasia, and they resent their condition, does that entail that they wish they had never been born? Or is it more likely that they wish they had been born normally?

Suppose a child resents being the "younger" brother and wishes he had been born ahead of his older brother? Is he really wishing to have never been born--and wishing it on his older brother too?

I don't think we usually use language that way, but strictly speaking bilogically if a person had been conceived a second later they would literally have been a different person.

CStanley said...

All purebred dogs live fewer years than mongrels.

No, that's not so. If you want to make a correct general statement, size is the factor that has the strongest correlation with longevity in dogs. A small purebred dog (especially particular breeds like miniature poodles) statistically is likely to outlive a very large mutt.

So considering all selective breeding of dogs, that which created the giant breeds had the worst effect on lifespan. Other selective breeding like the aforementioned pug has tended to cause quality of life issues but not necessarily short lifespans,

Meade said...

All I ask is no ManBearPig. And I'm super cereal about that.

Ann Althouse said...

No one is buying the horse/dog distinction.

But look at what we accept and coo over in dogs. We would be freaked out by that kind of manipulation of a horse. (Are you not freaked out by the horse at the link? But that's less weird than a pug.)

EDH said...

...Sarah Jessica Parker was unavailable for comment.

Sorry, I just couldn't help myself.

Gabriel said...

@Meade:All I ask is no ManBearPig. And I'm super cereal about that.

Bart: How do I create a half man, half monkey-type creature?
Mrs Krabapple: I'm sorry, that would be playing God.
Bart: God, shmod-- I want my monkey man.

Earnest Prole said...

No one is buying the horse/dog distinction.

You didn't make it sharp enough. The comparison would be any dog that did not look like a wolf -- not a mutt.

Earnest Prole said...

In other words, a mutt is just as much a freakish man-man creation as a chihuahua; it's just that the genetic intervention wasn't done last year.

Gahrie said...

Wait until people start doing this with human babies....

rcocean said...

We've manipulated Dogs, because they can be used for a number of tasks.

Horses not so much.

We ride them and use them to pull things. And show them off. That's about it.

lgv said...

I don't see the issue unless we are breeding a breed that will suffer in pain their whole life, which is not necessarily the case with this horse. Even if its life span were shorter, this would not be an issue. I think fewer people would be interested in a breed with a shorter life span due to breeding. Supply and demand will work itself out.

mockturtle said...

We ride them and use them to pull things. And show them off. That's about it.

And race them?

Earnest Prole said...

We've manipulated Dogs, because they can be used for a number of tasks. Horses not so much.

You'd be surprised. Google images for draught horse breeds.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Extreme breeding of horses and dogs is...

cruel and without redeeming social value, but should not be against the Law.

Say the same about fish and poultry also.

Fernandinande said...

English bulldogs, chihuahuas, bassets, Italian mastiffs, and oversized great Danes are freak shows.

"Here's What Popular Dog Breeds Looked Like Before And After 100 Years of Breeding"

Rae said...

A horse is a magnificent animal. That thing looks like an equine crack addict.

Kate said...

I am *completely freaked out by the horse picture at the link. Yikes. And some people find it beautiful.

If someone bred a new dog we'd be equally outraged. We're just used to pugs.

Roughcoat said...

Recommended, if you're interested in this issue: "The Dog Wars: How the Border Collie Battled the American Kennel Club."

Selective breeding is just fine, depending. Nature practices selective breeding: otherwise known as natural selection. It is perfectly acceptable and even desirable to breed selectively to achieve certain useful traits. The outcomes can be salutary and species diversity can be increased in the process.

"Extreme breeding" is an imprecise term; so much to as to be functionally meaningless.

That said: Border collie owners such as yours truly love and value their BCs for their herding abilities and and associated behaviors and traits (e.g., cognitive and problem-solving skills, work ethic, herding keenness, and so on). We hate the AKC because they breed purely for a certain look (i.e., conformation). In doing so they breed out the traits that make them useful as herding/working dogs while passing on genetic flaws (e.g., hip problems, obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc.).

Simply put, breeding for conformation is an abominable, immoral practice because it inevitably ruins the species it is inflicted upon. For that reason, border collie owners who are members of responsible organizations (such as, notably, the USBCHA) are forbidden from taking part in AKC events.

The USBCHA advocates for responsible breeding of BCs, i.e. breeding for traits, and behaviors. We don't care what they look like, and as a result they have many different "looks." My two girls are "roughcoats" with black-and-white markings and prick ears, but there other types (e.g., "smoothcoats" and flop ears) and the color and pattern of their markings vary. The result is greater genetic diversity and healthier dogs.

Make no mistake: the border collie breed was "created" in the late 1800s by selective breeding, a merging of extant breeds to produce traits that have since become specific to the border collie. The breeders wanted a herding dog that was fast, enduring, keen to work, with advanced cognitive and problem-solving skills that could be applied when it was far afield, beyond vocal and visual range of the shepherd. They wanted a herding dog that could in every way behave as a wolf, using wolf stalking techniques and its intimating "eye" to move the sheep without panicking the animals and (of course) without killing them: the movements of lupine pack predation being highly efficient for moving flocks (and cattle herds) independently of the shepherd, over distance.

That's exactly what they got in the border collie. Was the border collie a product of extreme breeding? If so, then extreme breeding can be a good thing, a very good thing indeed.

Ray said...

The German Sheperd breeding causes huge health issues...

But wins awards!

Rabel said...

Daddy

Mama

Earnest Prole said...

Roughcoat: Exactly right. The same is true for Australian shepherds, which are believed to be a cross between border collies and Basque herding dogs. Working-dog breeders select for temperament and ability; conformation breeders select for looks alone. The result is intelligent, athletic dogs on the one hand and neurotic, fluffy dogs on the other.

Roughcoat said...

Earnest Prole:

Yes, totally agree. Btw, I love Aussies, they're great dogs and great herders. Different herding style but no less capable than BCs. Terrific temperament, highly intelligent, keen to work, etc. The two breeds are close cousins and sometime lookalikes, especially if you get an Aussie with a tail.

michaele said...

Just to add a layer of info on the look of this extreme headed Arabian colt...he has been bred to be in a show horse in a classification called "Halter". The halter class is , in reality, all about looks...just a beauty contest where the horse only wears a decorative halter and is run in by a handler and then the horse just stands in a showy position as the judges walk around him.. The horses that compete in halter are often not broke to saddle and are exercised to look fit but aren't really put to the test. The Arabian breed has gotten very specialized since some horses are bred for racing, some for different types of under saddle performance classes and, then, there is halter. As someone who used to ride and show Arabian horses, this extreme dished face doesn't surprise me but is nothing that I would have ever been interested in buying.

Earnest Prole said...

Different herding style but no less capable than BCs.

"strong-eye" versus "loose-eye."

McG said...

Mrs. McG and I acquired our dog and her many cats from shelters or personally rescued as strays. To us there is no aesthetic value to either animal looking like anything but what it is -- a cat or a dog.

I've found over-bred dogs and cats to be fine, lovable creatures but the thought of being part of a market that creates more of them is disgusting to me.

The more so for the horse.

Scott said...

Interesting blog post: The canine genome

openidname said...

Let's not forget what we've done to cats:

[img]http://www.petsworld.in/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Bambino.jpg[/img]

openidname said...

Welp, posting an image in a Blogger comment didn't quite work out as advertised.

mockturtle said...

Openidname, nope. No can do.

Steven said...

I am opposed to all breeding for visual conformation, and perfectly fine with "extreme" breeding for suitability to tasks.

One of the things that goes along with breeding for task suitability is that you wind up breeding an animal that enjoys the task; any modern racehorse, for example, very obviously likes to race. (Because, of course, animals that object to the task don't do it as well, and accordingly get selected out, and the temperament is bred in.) Thus the humans and the animals are in alignment; what the humans value in the breed is what the animals themselves are happy to do. I don't value animal happiness like human happiness, but I don't fully discount it, either.

On the other hand, breeding for visual conformation just produces whatever appearance some human lunatic wants, without regard for the suffering of the animal in its life, and with a tendency to increasing extremes. I don't object sufficiently to want to outlaw it, but I find it repugnant and am willing to express that repugnance.

Michael McNeil said...

The biggest defect with dogs from a human association point of view is their short (decade or a bit more) lifespans — whether one is talking about inbred or large-body dogs or no. Once we understand the process — perhaps by studying how it is that specifically African naked mole rats (a rodent species) have a lifespan ten times that of everyday rats and mice — to wit, up to 31 years vs. perhaps four years, if that. Once the genetic secret is understood (and, of course, tested) dogs should be genetically engineered (not selectively bred) to add a much-extended lifespan to their qualities.